Hi dear reader,
Just a quick little post for you today — since I’ve been a little negligent in the blogging department lately.
I just had the great fortune to purchase and watch Juan of the Dead, the Cuban zombie film that was making some big indie waves last year.
I bought in as soon as I saw the tagline: “He’s Havana Killer Day.” Come on! How awesome is it that a pun that bad is the tagline?!?!? The awesomeness held throughout the film — though the ending was not my favorite.
The film is pushed by an excellent performance by Alexis Díaz de Villegas, who plays the brilliant but underachieving wastrel, Juan. The character is great — he is witty, irreverent, sarcastic, and a man used to living in the moment. He is also infinitely more sympathizable than the hero of the majority of zombie films — he comes through as a dynamic and complex character, despite how little interest the film has in developing characters (this is no slap, the film is invested more in cheesy jokes, action, and moving the plot in all the best ways).
The fact that the zombies are called “dissidents” is brilliant, and the complex play between Capitalism and Communism in the plot and the dialog is stunning.
On the whole, the film is amazing, though it isn’t perfect. The film’s female characters are highly sexualized — in fact the primary role of most female characters is that of a sexual object. It does do some interesting and redeeming things — the character La China offers an interesting example of something not really done in zombie films and she refreshingly muddies the gender waters… but only a little bit.
There seems to be a bit of recurring homophobia — especially in the bromantic vein — too.
The solid plot, great cinematography, excellent acting, and just super refreshing take on the genre make this movie a great watch.
And the fact that — like older zombie movies — there is no concern over what causes the outbreak or how it is stopped was refreshing, as well. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I love writing about zombie and viruses and how inextricably tied they are, but I also love the in medias res zombie film (think post-Night Romero, or Fulci with even less confusing narrative).
I definitely recommend zombie lovers go out and get this Juan.